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Can I see your calendar? How about your bank statements? If I could, I’d know a lot about you very quickly. How we spend our time and money reveals our priorities pretty clearly.

I have been in podcast and reading mode the last few weeks just taking in new insights and getting some fresh perspective as I prepare for a clean slate in the new year. This morning, I was listening to Dave Hollis on the For the Love podcast. He made an excellent point: what we say we want and what we actually do are often misaligned. If your goal is to slow down and rest, does your calendar actually reflect that? Whatever your goals are…more adventure, more date nights, more family trips, more laughter, more exercise, more “me” time, building a business, writing a book, fewer commitments, less junk food or time on social media…are you clearing the path (to borrow the term from Bob Goff) to make them happen?

What will you give up in 2020 to pursue your goals, develop your gifts, or reset your priorities? How are you deliberately clearing the path so you have more time, more money, or more energy for the things that really light you up?

Goal setting on an individual level is really important, but couple and family goals/priorities for the year are crucial too. Once you establish them, it gives you a really easy filter to put the relentless barrage of “to do’s,” social events, and commitments through. If your goal is to save for a big family trip, then it makes saying no to impulse purchases throughout the year easier. You keep your compass oriented toward the big goal and take steps every day (or most days) that align with it. We won’t get it right all the time, but progress in the right direction will be reward enough. You’ll feel more at peace and engaged and connected. You’ll find yourself doing hard, scary things and living to tell the tales. You’ll start pursuing joy like it’s your job. Shawn Achor’s work on happiness is really revolutionary here. Happiness drives success, not the other way around.

Yes, there are responsibilities and things we “have” to do. But, if you’re anything like me, you probably create a few hours of extra work each day doing things you’ve deemed mission critical that, much to your dismay, probably aren’t. When you drop those, you free up time and energy to pour into the “good” stuff. Maybe it’s giving yourself more latitude with housekeeping so you have more time to play with your kids, guilt-free. Or making yourself leave the office for lunch so you can meet-up with a good friend and nurture that relationship. Maybe it’s saying no to another committee obligation or happy hour to protect your weekly date night at all costs. Hold space for the things that matter deeply to you…and protect that space fiercely.

At some point, we just can’t work harder. Our only choice is to work smarter. At a critical threshold, we can’t add more goals and plans and priorities to overflowing plates. When we try to do it all, things slip all over the place. We get frantic and distracted. We feel frustrated and miserable. We take our eyes off our goals and get buried. We forget which way is up.

I love the idea that we can’t see the whole plan for our lives, but while a lot may be unclear, we can always choose to do the next right thing. If you have gifts in you that need expression, or priorities that need realignment, move that way. Let’s decide what we will orient our compasses toward in 2020, and then work our tails off to stay the course.